Friday, December 16, 2011

Book Review of #5 By the Shores of Silver Lake by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Name of Book: By the Shores of Silver Lake

Author: Laura Ingalls Wilder

ISBN:  0590488147

Publisher: Harper Trophy

Part of a Series: Little House Series. Little House in the Big Woods, ... prequels. Sequels: The Long Winter, Little Town on the prairie

Type of book: 1879-1880, pioneer, railroads, prairie, growing up, homestead, kid to young adult

Year it was published: 1939


The Ingalls family had fared badly in Plum Creek, Minnesota. They were in debt. Mary was blind now. So Pa went West to work at a railroad camp in Dakota Territory where he could make as much as fifty dollars a month! Then he sent for his wife and four children, and they became the first settlers in the new town of De Smet. But the railroad brought hordes of land-hungry people from the East. Had Pa waited too long to file his homestead claim?


The girls at last have grown up now and we can see the different personalities they exhibit, or at least Mary and Laura. Mary is the ladylike homebound sister, while Laura tends to be tomboyish and exploratory sister who prefers freedom to confinement. There is a slight discrepancy though; in On the Banks of Plum Creek Carrie is described as blond, while in this novel she's described as a brunnette. Carrie's personality isn't shown at all though. In here also we meet the Boast family who will have a role in future novels, and get a glimpse of the Wilder brothers. (Laura will get married to Almanzo in These Happy Golden Years.) More than anything, these novels are event-driven rather than character driven.


Honestly I'm not sure of the theme, except that Laura is growing up and more civilization starts creeping in; also we learn of Ma's hopes that Laura will become a teacher. Laura also begins to understand responsibility and to do things that are no longer thought of as selfish.


The books are from Laura's point of view, written from third person narrative. I think one has to read the previous novels to understand what is going, but in this case it's not really necessary because this book takes place  four years after On the Banks of Plum Creek and just like new readers we are introduced to the last Ingalls sister Grace; the Wilder brothers make an appearance, and we're also introduced to Boast family. Laura and her family moves and we witness them leaving to Silver Lake. There are a few characters from On the Banks of Plum Creek such as the preacher and Jack the dog.

Author Information:

Laura Elizabeth Ingalls Wilder (February 7, 1867 – February 10, 1957) was an American author who wrote the Little House series of books based on her childhood in a pioneer family.[1] Laura's daughter, Rose, inspired Laura to write her books. (from wikipedia)


Although in the past I enjoyed the book, when reading it this time, I didn't like it. I think the author tried to go for Sarah Orne Jewett story, A White Heron, but she seemed to fail to capture the spirit of the story. In parts I also found it boring and wished that she could have included more details, such as how Pa took care that no one stole horses, or why is some of the language considered vulgar? The fact that Laura got interested in the railroads and the functions and whatnot, to me was a bit boring actually and I couldn't wait until I could get through them.

3 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

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